Student Loan Payoff Progress Report – May 2015

studentloanpayoffOnce a month I will update my progress (or lack of progress) on my goal of paying off my student loan. Since interest accrues daily on my loan and it is extremely unlikely that I will be able to make another payment on my loan this month my student loan balance is the lowest it will be this month.  That is why I chose today to post my student loan payoff update.

When I first posted about this goal last month my student loan balance was at $138,960. The current balance is $122,195 for a total of 11.9% of the loan paid off. I have made $17,383.86 of payments in the last month.  Those payments reduced the balance of my loan by $16,495. That means about $890 of my payments were swallowed up by interest accrued during that time. That seems high to me since I’ve calculated my monthly interest owed at just over $600. I’ll have to write them an email and ask for an explanation of the discrepancy. Also my student loan company stated that my last payment reduced my principal by a little over $200. This is strange to me since my original loan amount was just over $106,000 and I didn’t think any of my payments would be applied to principal until my loan was paid down to that amount. I guess I don’t understand my student loan as well as I thought.

My progress isn’t nearly as good as it seems though. Only about $2600 of the payments were made in cash. The remaining amount of $16,800 was paid by credit card balance transfers. Two of my credit cards had 0% balance transfer offers available. Both of them had 2% balance transfer fees making my effective interest rate on the balance transfers a little over 2%. This is a decent savings compared to the 6.6% rate my student loans are at. There is some risk to using the balance transfers to pay down my student loan. If I don’t have the balance transfers paid off by the end of the 0% promotional period the interest rate reverts to the normal credit card purchase interest rate which is much higher than 6.6%. One promotional period is for a year and the other is for eighteen months. I think I should be able to easily pay off the transfers during that time. I won’t be taking out any more balance transfers until these are paid off since I am at about the limit of what I comfortably certain I can pay off in that amount of time.

Progress on paying down my student loan will be slower in the next few months since I won’t be throwing any more big chunks of money at the loan and I will have to divert some of my money to paying down the balance transfers. I’m hoping that I will be able to make enough money to at least make some progress each month.

May 2015 Goals

I usually state my goals for the month in the same post that reviews the previous month’s goals. Since I didn’t make any goals for April my goals for May will be in their own post.

I didn’t set any goals for April since I planned to be hiking the last half of the month. As it turned out I didn’t go hiking since I got hit by a car. Lingering complications from the accident made it difficult for me to accomplish much in April so it is just as well I didn’t have any goals for April.

Although I didn’t have any monthly goals for April I do want to review my progress or lack of progress towards my yearly goals in April. My first yearly goal is to keep my expenses under $1k a month. I didn’t quite meet that goal, but I came reasonably close. Since I went over due to buying a car I am going to give myself a pass for the month.

My second goal is to run a 5k in under 23:59. This goal was a fail. I went backwards on this goal in April. Due to the fatigue and dizziness from my concussion I didn’t feel like running in April. I went for my first run in over a month yesterday and it was obvious that I had lost most of the little conditioning I had. I will have to build my conditioning back up. I am scheduled to run in a 5k this weekend which should give me a good idea of how far away I am from reaching this goal.

The last yearly goal is to be able to do one pull-up.  This was another fail. I plan to join a gym before the end of this month and doing some workouts to increase my upper-body strength. I need to start doing some exercises at home as well.

My first goal for this month is to have fast food no more than twice a week and to not buy any chips or other salty snacks. My blood pressure has been high ever since my concussion. It has come down since then, but it is still too high. Although I think the concussion was responsible for the spike in my blood pressure it is likely my diet is contributing to my blood pressure remaining high. Cutting back on the unhealthy food would be a good idea even if my blood pressure was in the normal range. Hopefully, this change will be enough to get my blood pressure back in the normal range.

My other goal for the month is to write at least 200 words each weekday on my book. I’ve done some writing for my book a few days this month and I have been setting a goal of at least 100 words for each writing session. That goal has been easily met and I usually write at least 200 words so I’m now making that my goal. I’m also setting a goal of writing each weekday since if I just write when I feel like it and/or remember to write I don’t write often enough. I think setting the easily reachable goal of 200 words will keep the writing from feeling like a big chore which will keep me from procrastinating on getting it done.

I think I’ve done a little better on my goals so far this year than in years past. That is mainly because I’ve set a very low bar when it comes to accomplishing my goals. Most of my monthly goals I’ve set in the past were not met. From now on when I set a monthly goal I need to accomplish the goal if it is at all possible to do so.

March 2015 Goals Review

My goals for March were to lose three pounds, spend less than $50 on fast food, and write at least ten blog posts. I did manage to spend under $50 on fast food. I spent $43.78 on fast food in March. That is much better than normal for me. For some reason I didn’t crave fast food as much in March as I usually do. I wish I knew the reason for that so I could take advantage of it in the future.

I did not accomplish my other two goals though. I forgot to weigh myself at the end of the month, but I’m sure I didn’t lose weight. I was in Las Vegas at the end of the month. Since I had two buffets, In-n-Out burger, and a meal at the Heart Attack grill while I was there it is probably safe to say I didn’t lose weight on that trip. When I weighed myself today I was the same weight as I was at the beginning of March. I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t gain weight as bad as I ate on my trip. This month I will start my hiking trip which will cause me to lose weight so I’ll start making some good progress on this goal.

I published seven posts on this blog in March which is obviously less than the ten posts that I made my goal. When I get home after work I never feel like writing a blog post. That is why I need to get all my writing done on the weekend, but I haven’t been doing that. This month I will not set a goal for writing posts. I’ll be hiking the last half of the month which will make writing and posts difficult. I will write when I can and when I feel like it.

My yearly goals are to keep my expenses under $1k a month, run a 5k in under 23:59, finish hiking the Appalachian Trail, and be able to do one pull-up. I didn’t make much progress on those goals last month. My spending was just over $1k which I’m happy with that since it was reasonably close to the goal. I did go for one run at the park which almost killed me. I’m definitely out of shape. My approximate 5k time was 33:30 so I have a long way to go on that one. This month my job finishes and I start my AT hike. Hiking the AT will obviously help me meet my goal of finishing hiking the AT. It should also result in significant weight loss which will help me accomplish my 5k and pull-up goals. Hiking the AT can be pretty cheap so I should do okay on my $1k a month goal. I’m not making any goals for the month of April, but starting and staying on my AT hike should result in significant progress towards most of my goals.

February 2015 Goal Review

My goals for February 2015 were to lose five pounds and spend less than $50 on fast food. My 2015 goals are to have average monthly expenses under $1000, run a 5k in under 23:59, to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail, and to be able to do one chin-up.

I accomplished one of my monthly goals last month. I spent $48.62 on fast food in February, just a little bit under my limit of $50. Being sick for a week and not wanting to eat helped me reach this goal. The short month helped as well. If not for those two things I probably would have spent the $50 well before the end of the month. I ended up having fast food four times the final week of February since I still had money to spend in the budget. I’m going to set the same goal for March. It should be a little more challenging this time with the longer month and hopefully not being sick.

I did not manage to lose five pounds last month. My weight loss total was only 0.6 pounds which is obviously not very close to my goal. When I got sick earlier in February I was within a pound of reaching the goal. When my appetite returned I gained all the weight back pretty quickly though. For this month I’m going to set a goal of losing three pounds and hope that I do better than that.

One more goal for this month is to write at least ten blog posts for this blog. I’ve been pretty lazy writing so far this year.  I have several ideas for posts, I just need to get them written. My plan is to write several blog posts each weekend since I know I most likely won’t write one during the week.

For my yearly goals I did manage to keep my monthly spending under $1000 again. My Appalachian Trail hike will start next month, until that starts I can’t make any progress on my goal to finish hiking the AT. I didn’t make any progress on my goals to run a 5k in under 23:59 and to be able to do one chin-up. I might sign up for a 5k run later this month which should help me make a little progress on the 5k goal. My current plan for the 5k goal and chin-up goal is to focus on them once I have finished the AT hike. It would still be good to make a little progress on them before that.

I did manage to accomplish a couple of goals last month. They were both financial goals. It seems that I do a lot better with those than with physical goals.

January 2015 Goal Review

I didn’t set any goals for the month of January, but I still had my 2015 goals to work on. My 2015 goals are to have average monthly expenses under $1000, run a 5k in under 23:59, to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail, and to be able to do one chin-up.

I only spent $919 for the month so I’m doing good on my monthly expense goal.  I can’t make any progress on my AT hiking goal until I’m finished with my job in April.

That leaves my 5k goal and my chin-up goal. It is difficult to say whether I made any progress on those goals. If I did make any progress it was minimal. I did lose three pounds which might have helped those goals a tiny bit. I did very little running or upper-body exercise during the month. This month I plan to run at least on the weekends and I’ll run a 5k before the end of the month to see what progress I have made. I’m not sure how to measure whether I’m making progress on being able to do a chin-up.  Since I don’t have any weights I can’t measure how much I’m able to lift. I need to figure out something to measure my progress (or lack of progress) towards being able to do a chin-up.

Since the yearly goals seem so far away I want to make some monthly goals as well. For this month my goals are to lose 5 pounds and spend less than $50 on fast food. Eating less fast food should help me lose weight so those goals are symbiotic. I spent way too much on fast food last month. Despite that I somehow managed to lose three pounds. If I cut back on the fast food and bump up the exercise a little bit losing five pounds should be attainable. I feel like adding more goals, but I think I need to have a month where I successfully completed all my goals before I start adding too many goals.


My 5K PR Plan Plus One Chin Up

One of the goals I have set for the coming year is to set a personal record (PR) for a 5k run. My previous PR is 23:59. I went for a run in the park last Sunday to determine my current 5k time. Since the course I ran on is in miles and only has quarter miles marked and also due to a pit stop in the middle of the run I have to estimate how long it took me to run 5k. My guess is that I ran the 5k in just under 35 minutes which would mean I need to cut about eleven minutes off of my 5k time.

Although that is a lot of time to cut I believe it is possible. My current time is somewhat inflated since I haven’t been running regularly for years.  My plan to cut that time is simple.  I will just start running regularly and eat better. Once I get in the habit of running regularly I know I will make great progress to start.  Eating better will lead to losing weight which will make it easier for me to run faster.  Eating better and exercising are both things I did when I was in the process of losing thirty pounds this year so I know I can do them. I just need to start doing them again.  Even when I was doing these things earlier this year I wasn’t doing them consistently until the very end. If I do these things consistently from the start I know I will see great results.  It is possible that eventually just exercising and eating better will not be enough to improve my 5k time to my goal. If that happens there are plenty of guides on improving your 5k time that I will consult and implement the advice that I think is best.

This wasn’t part of my original goals for 2015 but I have decided to also add a goal of being able to do one chin up. That may not sound like much of a goal to many of you. I’m not even close to being able to do a chin up now though.  When you consider I haven’t been able to do a chin up since probably sometime around age 21 this is actually an ambitious goal.  This goal will be achieved through doing body weight workouts and losing weight.  Once I have lost some weight and have gained some strength I might try some workouts specifically for being able to do a chin up like this one.

Accomplishing both of these goals would mean that I would be in the best physical shape I’ve been in since my early 20s. That is a lofty goal for someone in their 40s, but I sincerely believe I can achieve it. Losing the thirty pounds this year showed me that I can achieve physical goals if I want them enough.  I will post update at the end of each month next year to let you know how my progress is going.